Denver’s Focus Points gets families active, educated
posted by: Guest Blogger
Finding a Zumba class in metro Denver is not difficult. But finding one that incorporates progress measurement, health lessons and day care with a nutrition curriculum for young children is unusual.
“Something we heard at the beginning of classes is, ‘Why is this class not offered every day?’ ” said Indira Galaviz, a family advocate, and program coordinator at Focus Points Family Resource Center.
The Active Families Program was created by the nonprofit as part of an effort to expand its work providing education to adults and their families.
Instead of just a workout, participants have been tracking their body mass index to measure changes and are getting lessons in every class about nutrition. In the provided day care, children also are learning about healthful eating and where food comes from.
“Our goal primarily is to introduce exercise and healthy living tips,” Galaviz said. “Hopefully, by doing it three times a week, it can become part of their routine.”
Anecdotal results already are starting to show among the 50 people currently enrolled in the 12-week series, including one diabetic woman who reports she has been able to decrease her insulin intake by staying active and deploying the tips she’s learned in the class.
And while some kids remain reluctant to eat vegetables, program teachers say they see children having fun learning about the nutrition of fruits and vegetables and using them to prepare snacks for class.
One of the recent snacks kids made while their parents worked up a sweat in the Zumba class was a face: Broccoli was used for hair, apples for the mouth and grapes for the eyes.
“It’s not everyday you have a 3-year-old asking for broccoli,” said executive director Cynthia Gallegos. “That’s different.”
The Zumba instructor was already teaching in the neighborhood. When Focus Points incorporated her classes into its program, the agency was able to add services and make the courses free.
Focus Points is one of many organizations that has received funding through Denver Post Charities Season to Share.
The group has focused on education as a core for all of its programs — including adult education, parenting classes, English language classes and even gardening classes — since it opened about 17 years ago.
The group primarily targeted Spanish-speaking immigrants. But Gallegos said the demographics — and the needs of people — are changing in the north Denver neighborhood.
Now Focus Points serves men and women who represent 17 languages.
“We haven’t ever increased our services without the need and demand in the community,” Gallegos said. “We’re becoming a multicultural community, and a lot more people are going back into the workforce that’s why we have seen we needed to broaden our services.”
Focus Points Family Resource Center
Address: 2501 E. 48th Ave., Denver, CO 80216
In operation since: 1995
Number served last year: 1,200 families
Staff: 52 paid staff members, including 17 fulltime
Yearly budget: $1.25 million for 2012-13 year
Percentage of funds directly given to clients and services: About 67 percent for teacher and staff salaries, and 7 percent for remaining program costs